Friday, February 21, 2014

Czech Princess and Goddess

Princess Guglielma (Blazena) was daughter of Queen Constance and Premysl Otakar I, king of Bohemia, sister of St. Agnes of Prague and king Vaclav I. Around 1260 She arrived in Milan to live there, as far as we know, as a religious Woman independently in Her own home. Her charismatic teaching and Her reputation attracted disciples, both Women and men, who clung to Her with fierce loyalty. Guglielma became a centre of devoted religious group of more then three dozen mostly upper-class Milan citizen. They believed that their Mistress is no less then the Holy Spirit Herself and the true God(dess) and come to found a new church led by Women. After Her dead in 1281 the church was led by Guglielma’s ‘earthly vicar’ Sister Maifreda da Pirovano, the Papessa of the age to come…
Sister Maifreda as Papessa, from the Visconti-Sforza tarot pack, 1450
Sister Maifreda was first cousin of the lord of Milan. She publicly celebrated Masses before an altarpiece showing the Trinity with Guglielma as the third person. The cult was slowly growing and before 1300 there was, as is recorder, over 130 devotees to honour Sister Maifreda by kissing Her feet and hands. Sister Maifreda lived in the convent of Santa Caterina di Biassono and it became the epicentre of Guglielma’s private cult. St. Catherine served as an iconographic cover for Guglielma, She was painted under the name of St. Catherine and also nuns of the convent started to preached about Guglielma.
Later copy of the previous card. 
In 1284 inquisitors interrogated Sister Maifreda and others for the first time. They all escaped with symbolic punishment and a warning after repudiating their errors. But in august 1296 the anti heretical bull Saepe anctam Ecclesiam authorised action against laypersons ‘even of the female sex’ and inquisitors renewed action against Guglielma’s followers. Inquisitions trial held in Milan from July through December of 1300 interrogated at least 33 citizens and Sister Maifreda and two others (Sister Giacoma da Nova and Andrea Saramita) paid for their believe with their lives. Guglielma’s body was also burned and ashes scattered, Her tomb dismantled, Her images destroyed, Her disciples’ writings consigned to the fire, her memory utterly damned.
Guglielma blessing Sister Maifreda da Pirovano and Andrea Saramita
But 150 years after the trial Her cult was alive again and someone even commissioned a painting of the Guglielma for church of Brunate, a village near Milano. A fifteenth-century legend refers Guglielma as ‘a very beautiful Virgin, as eloquent as She was fair, saying that She was the Holy Spirit incarnate for redemption of Women; and She baptised Women in the name of the Father and of the Son and of Herself’. Up to this day the Princess Guglielma is honored as the unofficial patron saint of Brunate village.